With the sudden surge of technology in recent years, blue light has become a topic of discussion, especially concerning overexposure and the possibility of the associated harmful effects. And with 93% of teens with access to a computer and 70% of their counterparts suffering from digital eye strain from daily digital device use, experts have been upping their game when it comes to researching whether blue light may cause certain exposure-related health problems. Is blue light exposure harming vision? What can be done about it?
Before technology, the setting sun told our bodies when it was time to wind down for the evening. This peaceful twilight upped our bodies’ production of melatonin, the hormone that influences our circadian rhythms and makes us sleepy after sun goes down. With the introduction of blue light-emitting digital devices and fluorescent lighting, however, our bodies are suddenly being tricked into staying awake and alert, which not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, but to remain in a deep, restful sleep for the whole night.
According to the research, 43% of working adults report having jobs that require them to spend most of their eight-hour day on a computer. Not only is this physical inactivity detrimental to our bodies, but viewing a bright screen for prolonged periods of time can also lead to symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, including eyestrain, fatigue, headaches and even double vision. In fact, when surveyed, 90% of people who work behind a computer screen for upwards of three hours each day reported having experienced one or more of these symptoms.
Does long-term exposure to high levels of blue light harm our eyes? Unfortunately, yes. While our eyes are relatively effective at blocking UV rays, they fall short when it comes to blue light. Because of its intensity, blue light doesn’t just stop at the cornea, but passes through to the back of the retina and overexposure can actually lead to damage of the light-sensitive cells. Too much exposure without adequate eye protection can cause changes resembling that of macular degeneration and can lead to permanent vision loss. And the increase in blue light-emitting technology only adds to the risk of ending up with permanent eye damage.
If you do not need glasses, adding a blue light filter to your digital devices and computer is a good way to reduce screen brightness. Computer glasses also work to block blue light rays, in addition to minimizing glare. Anti-reflective treatments on prescription lenses provide protection against a screen’s blue light reflection. Outdoors, photochromic lenses darken to help shield eyes and can block up to 95% of harmful UV light. Knowing the risks of blue light exposure, and keeping your eyes comfortable and protected is the best strategy for optimizing your vision in the digital world.